Sunday, November 24, 2013

Holy Hip Flexors Batman

Morning from chilly Missouri! (-3 windchill)

We is dressagin and we is doin it right!

My compadre, Jesse, who rode Yankee while I was in FL came and kicked my bum into gear with a dressage "lesson" of the aggressive type. I asked for it. Literally, asked her.

When I got home, Yankee was entirely different. In a good way. Straight and forward mostly. I was mostly happy, but slightly jealous that Jesse whipped him into shape in a week (see post titled "Stop Being Better Than Me").

So I asked her to tell me how she did it.

And it was really really hard.

  I have the unfortunate conformation that is not conducive for proper form in the saddle. I never have looked graceful in the saddle like most people do, and look even more awkward on Yankee who is small bodied. I might be the only person to complain about having long legs and a short torso, but seriously finding a saddle that FITS is impossible. My knees always look like theyre in my lap even when my stirrups are too long. Its an epic battle to keep them straight and I discovered that my hip flexors are tighter than a stuck pickle jar lid.

Jesse helped me with my dressage eq, since it was since gone by the wayside (think hair scrunchie). I have a HUGE problem with stretching through my hips down into the stirrups and tip forward, and ride with my hands in my lap. Typical ex hunter.

With CONSTANT (literally, almost every minute) feedback I was able to ride properly: legs back, seatbones connected, back straight, shoulders back, hands up, eyes up. Only when reminded though. In the video its really easy to see my inside hand creep home to its safe place on the saddle.

Muscle memory is a bitch.

Jesse would constantly fire commands at me; "inside hand up, shoulders back, sit, hands up, GET THAT INSIDE HAND UP, sit up, INSIDE HAND WOMAN, sit, legs back, half halt, sit sit sit"

But magic is magic and it worked. Who knew proper riding FIXES things.
This video is a really great visual for anyone that wants to see me being extremely tense (riding in the proper position is unfamiliar) and thus making my hot OTTB even more tense as well. Slowly, ou can see a difference and throughout the vid you can see us both relax. Yankee really changes from trotting/cantering up and down with no back swing, ewe neck/tense, to soft, swingy and relaxed. BUT as soon as I tense up again, he does the same. It is REALLY evident in the leg yeilds.

I know watching 7 minutes of another person ride can be exceptionally boring, but I really think this video is helpful! At least to me, especially because I can see the mistakes, see them corrected and SEE the difference.

For some reason I can't get the video to go where I want it, so its at the end of the post. DAMN TECHNOLOGY.

I could see the biggest difference in the WALK. He usually is really lazy and tense, and in some parts of the vid his back legs are actually stepping up. And the free walk? ummm, I love it.

Take a look at some differences in these still shots.

Better position, and look at dat trot!

Classic Monica, hands in lap, tipped forward, heels up. BAD, But DAT TROT

AH MAH ZA ZING trot, and look my hands, my upper body! Leg is still a little tense, but better.

Ah-mazing walk, Upper body is a little forward, but, I still love this walk

So you can see here my hands in my lap, but my upper body is where it should be and my legs are relaxed, getting there....

Here I was tapping with my inside leg, but my thigh is still relaxed, hands where they should be and upper body back. He is listening and REALLY engaging (look at his back right behind saddle pad) and that inside leg action!

Classic Monica is back, but Yankee looks SUUUPERRR relaxed

Here I was half halting with inside, then outside, but my leg is all tense again and I'm starting to tip forward

Lovely engaged collected trot. LOVE LOVE LOVE this picture as a whole

I don't know if you guys have ever tried to change your way of riding in one day but it is seriously frustrating. I was definitely complaining and puffing like a fatty. I wasn't used to moving that way at all and my muscles were very unhappy with me. I was actually TIRED from riding. And my legs/back/abs were sore as soon as I dismounted.

God, I need to work out  more.


  1. Talented friends are amazing, especially if fancy lessons just aren't in the budget. You guys look amazing.

    And yeah, if you complain about your long legs and tiny torso again, I will drive to your barn and strangle you with your overly long stirrup leather. :-p

    Kidding, but really. There are worse problems to have.

  2. I have the long legs on a tiny bodied horse problem too lol. In fact I think I share a lot of your eq bad habits. You should see the hideous picture I posted of myself at the trot yesterday. :) I really enjoyed the video. Thanks for sharing it! Also I am a bit envious that you have a friend who can help you out! I miss lessons!!

  3. Ughhh, long legs are so not all they're made out to be. I totally feel you there. You guys look amazeballs, and I have to say that Yankee's checkerboard ass is really growing on me.

  4. He looks really nice the outline. I also like the clip. The more you learn about riding properly, the less you realize you know. Sucha long journey!

  5. You guys look amazing. And yes, trying to fix things is crazyhard at first! But so worth it.

  6. You guys look really good :) We all have things we need to work.

  7. You guys are looking great! Keep the work up :)
    If your friends wants to start coaching long distance and across time zones...